Couple-hood and CORONA Part II: How To Stop Letting a Virus Be the Third in the Bedroom

Couple-hood and CORONA Part II: How To Stop Letting a Virus Be the Third in the Bedroom

By Ishma Alvi

Social media seems to be rife with people musing on increased sex drives, joking about maternity wards being over-run in nine months and about how the combination of increased free time and being almost constantly on-line is increasing porn consumption and masturbation. However, the actual facts are actually somewhere in between.

The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University reported an increase at both ends of the spectrum; higher numbers of people are reporting having more sex and simultaneously, more people are reporting a decline in their sex drive. Sounds contradictory? Not really. For some, stress, fear, sadness, loss and anxiety all short-circuit the sex drive. The way the pandemic has impacted lives has not only been through the direct impact of infection and the illness and death it can cause, but also the vicarious trauma, social isolation, economic strain and the sense of being trapped in the state of lockdown. Having a pandemic casting its shadow over your life and headspace can be akin to having a third, very unwelcome person in bed with you and your partner.

On the other hand, there are others who see sex as the only way to counter the existential fears a global pandemic can raise; a way of confirming and celebrating life and human connection over what appears to be a reminder of mortality.

So, if you are on the end of the spectrum that is experiencing a decline in your sex drive, you are not alone (at least not statistically!).

Having said that, data has, over the years, shown that an active and satisfactory sex life boosts mood, reduces anxiety and strengthens relationships (between the people who are having it, of course!).

The question is how to have sex with CORONA sharing your bed?

The first steps are to re-connect with your own sexuality. Give yourself and your mind the space and privacy to wonder to thoughts, memories and images that are arousing. If you feel it would help, try accessing porn of a kind that would suit your needs (there is pornography and erotica to suit all tastes, including feminist pornography!). Take pleasure in your body, masturbate without focusing solely on the orgasm but the pleasure of the build up to orgasm. Try edging- bring yourself as close to orgasm as possible, then stop, catch your breath, give yourself 10 to 15 seconds and start to masturbate again. Repeat at least another 2 times before allowing yourself to orgasm.

Start re-connecting with your partner; which does not have to start with sex, especially if it has been a while. Start with small intimacy, touch hands, caress the small of the back, the neck or cheek. Be playful and try a quick, cheeky squeeze of the bum. Hold sexuality lightly and try to bring in a bit of a laugh-nothing defuses stress better! Encourage more full kisses rather than quick pecks.

Spend conscious time together- this is not the time you are thrown together as parents or cooks or teachers or cleaners. This is the time that is planned- it does not have to be dramatic, convoluted or complex to be fun. Plan a board-game night. Or a night of Twister. Seeing each other laugh and engage can help act as a reminder of who you both are aside from partners- friends and lovers.

Talk about sex – you might have done it before. Why not do it again? Reminisce. Unpack each other’s sexual growth and history. Discuss preferences and fantasies. Again, keep it light, the conversation is meant to be gentle verbal foreplay- a little intellectual frisson to help ignite your recognition of each other as lovers.

Play with sex -Sex is not only penetration, does not only have to happen in bed, in an extra-long production of candles and wine (though that’s nice, too!), at night. Sex is anything that causes sexual arousal and that can happen anywhere; on the sofa, in the shower, in the garage (door closed, car switched off, please!). It can take minutes. And if you are parents, there needs to be that extra creativity of having sex with the children permanently at home! This could include early morning sex, later-at-night sex. Or encouraging the children to stick to school-night bedtimes on weekdays (a win-win on the parenting and the sexy-times front!).

There is no argument that these are strange and trying times. Nor is there an argument to the grief and loss the world has experienced and is continuing to experience. Let sex be the pleasure and connection you manage to snatch in a time of hardship.

This blog was written by Ishma Alvi. To learn more about Ishma’s experience, click here. Or to book an appointment to see her, or one of the other Psychologists at Vida click here.

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